Friday, March 15, 2013
Pope Francis Has A Style All His Own
By Sister Mary Ann Walsh
A somewhat calm day, and a reason to be grateful as work will pick up again.
Electrical Power was off 9-10 a.m. this morning as the college does work on the apartments in the Wall, where our office is located. The wall was the place staff of North American College had housing in years back. Now it’s used for guests and faculty. Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta was our neighbor for a few days this week while serving as commentator on ABC. He left yesterday morning for home after winning rave reviews.
Morning shows on Sunday are getting organized and cardinals will be featured guests. Nothing finalized yet, just some reaching out to communications directors.
Pope Francis’ style will make work harder for journalists. He ad libs or even rejects entirely speeches written for him. That means the Vatican cannot always distribute speeches ahead of time under embargo. Today in his meeting with the cardinals he ad libbed so much the Vatican had to do some hurry up work. The press office got the Italian text out a while after he delivered his address but the text in other languages were slated to come later.
The pope greeted each of the cardinals personally today. Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa gave him a yellow band bracelet. An official reached to take it from him, but he instead put it on. Still do not know what the wristband signifies but someone called it a “faith bracelet.”
He greeted the cardinals as “my brothers,” another sign of what looks to be a down-to-earth relationship with the College of Cardinals.
Don, Mar and I went to the media briefing at the alternative press center. Father Lombardi told a few anecdotes about the pope, who is still living at Domus Sanctae Marthae, a hotel inside the Vatican. He noted, for example, that he comes late for breakfast and so takes a seat wherever he can find one. No place of honor for him.
Questions were wide-ranging. People sought details of Mass of installation. There will be separate sections for priests, for handicapped, for diplomats, etc. CNN wanted to know what number pope he is. Answer: he’s 266th pope , the 265th successor to St. Peter. (I think the information was available elsewhere too.)
This new bishop of Rome won’t take possession of his church, the Basilica of St John Lateran, until after Easter so he’ll celebrate Holy Thursday services at St. Peter’s instead of St. John Lateran, the usual site for the pope’s Holy Thursday service.
Cardinal McCarrick stopped by our office for a meeting with Ann Rogers, reporter from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who had earlier interviewed Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, a Pittsburgh native. When asked what he said to Pope Francis when they met, he said he didn’t say much because he got all choked up. Prior to the Conclave Cardinal McCarrick, a non-voting cardinal because he’s over 80, was touting the praises of Cardina Jorge Borgoglio, whom he had met on his many travels.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh is media relations director for the USCCB.